40. Reading Skills Comprehension: Sir Harry Hamilton

Sir Harry Hamilton

Sir Harry Hamilton Johnson, the famous explorer, wrote of Livingstone that “in less than fifty years from the commencement of Livingstone’s career, Central Africa, in its main geographical features, its marvels, its riches, and its horrors, has been completely laid bare to the contemplation of the white man”.

Livingstone sailed for South Africa towards the end of 1840. After a long voyage, he landed at Algoa Bay. He reached Kuruman, in Bechuanaland and started his journey into the interior. Livingstone built a house at Mabotsa where Dr Robert Moffat settled after having founded the mission station at Kuruman, about two hundred miles away from Mabotsa. But all the while, Livingstone was dreaming of the unknown lands to the north.

 He thought it consistent with his work as a missionary to meet with new tribes. In June 1852, Livingstone set out an exploration which was to make his name ring through the world. He made for Kolobeng where he found that the Boers had burned the town, plundered his house, smashed his precious bottles of medicines and torn up his books. He halted at Linyanti and was well received by Makololo. After staying for a month he set off in the hope of discovering a practicable route from North Bechuanaland to the west coast.

Livingstone left Linyanti on November 11, 1853. The party travelled by canoe up the Zambezi, passing out of Makololo country at Libonta. From that time they were in the territories of strange and sometimes hostile chiefs, but the leader’s tact and patience smoothed the way. Fever racked him all the time they were going through the unhealthy Barotse Valley, but he pushed on, passed Lake Dilolo in the swampland that gives rise to streams flowing into the Zambezi and the Congo, and entered the Kioko country. He was entranced by his journey through the luxuriant tropical forest which provided such striking contrast with the sun-baked deserts of Bechuanaland. But he was so careless of his health that he became seriously ill of fever. His Makololo men became discouraged and began to revolt against his orders.

 Fighting every kind of difficulty, the party made its way westwards, found help from the Portuguese garrisons in Angola, and at long last, to the astonishment of Makololo, reached Sao Paulo de Loanda on May 31, 1854. At last, Livingstone’s objective to reach here was achieved.

1 On the basis of your reading of the passage answer the following questions as briefly as possible. Write your answers in the spaces provided.

(a) Livingstone was a missionary and went to Mabotsa because …

(b) Livingstone always dreamed of going to the unknown lands because …

(c) ‘He thought it consistent …’ (line 10). What for does ‘it’ stand here? 

(d) ‘Fever racked him all the time they’ (line 20). ‘They’ here refers to …

 (e) The tropical forest impressed Livingstone much because of …

(f) Livingstone fell seriously ill while …

(g) Livingstone and his men had to seek help from the Portuguese garrisons because …

(h) What did Makololo men do to Livingstone?


(a) he had a house there

 (b) he thought it consistent to meet new tribes/people

(c) dreaming of unknown land to the north  (d) Livingstone and his party men

(e) its striking contrast with the sun-baked deserts of Bechuanaland

(f) journeying through the luxuriant tropical forest

(g) they faced difficulties (especially from the hostile tribal chiefs)

(h) They revolted against his orders.

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